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For the serious student of cryptocurrencies, IOTA is a name most likely you know well. However since only about 8% of Americans own any crypto, and then 80% of those folks own bitcoin, it’s time to get to know your neighbors.  

Ok, let’s start with a trick question.  Over the next 10-20 years, which technovation will have the greatest impact on society: cryptocurrencies, the Internet of Things (IoT) or Artificial Intelligence (AI)?  

The answer is: they will each be so big and so important that it really doesn’t matter.  As an investor you can go with anyone of these themes. But then, you might want to focus attention on IOTA. It could be like getting a techno triple play.  

This is not to suggest dumping your bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple or other major names. In an uncertain world, the big guys still carry a better risk profile.  But in today’s market, altcoins represent the most depressed values. Out of this group, IOTA offers investors participation in crypto, IoT and AI.

I do not own IOTA so objectivity isn’t being compromised.  Here are a few things about IOTA that stand out.

Ideal For High Volume Small Transactions

For all their benefits, single layer blockchains present a scaling nightmare to bitcoin and even so called second generation names like Ethereum.  Solutions like the Lightning Network and Raiden, when fully deployed sometime later this year, will help. But the ability to process 50,000 transactions a second is still a way off.

IOTA is specifically targeted for high volume transactions at near zero costs.  This makes a competitive stand against the ultra fast but high cost giants like Visa, MasterCard, etc. The secret is that IOTA doesn’t depend on a blockchain.  

Instead, developers have created something they call Tangle. IOTA is a blockchain free cryptocurrency.  Tangle is designed to remove the necessity of predetermined block times. Instead of many nodes confirming a transaction, the sender of the IOTA transaction must confirm two other transactions on the Tangle.

In other words, the entire time and energy intensive crypto mining process in sidetracked replacing it with a user verification process. To put it more simply, every user becomes a miner in the network.

This reduces cost to the point where IOTA transactions are near zero.  Compare this to a Visa or MasterCard debit card merchant service charge of 1.5% or a credit card fee of 2.9%-4%+ and there is no contest.

Is Tangle more secure than blockchain?  An honest answer is Tangle has not been tested enough to get enough data.  But if you accept that small transactions are less of a so called “attractive nuisance” than the size Bitcoin is best handling, then the effective security risk becomes tolerable.

IoT And AI: Real And Imagined

Small and even micro-transactions will be the measure of IOTA for the immediate future and there is nothing wrong with that.  After all we are talking about a multi trillion dollar global market. But this isn’t what crypto visionaries see as the end game.

Advocates of IOTA paint a glowing picture for the crypto in IoT and AI based on the near zero transaction cost and huge supply of the currency.  If things turn out this way, it means that IOTA is appealing to an entirely different segment than bitcoin, ether, Ripple or many altcoins.

By huge supply we are talking about each traded IOTA quoted in MIOTA or a million units. Total supply is defined as one Petalota. That equals 10 IOTA to the 15th power. If you prefer real numbers, the total supply is 2,779,530,283,277,761. Try saying that number quickly. Certainly the founders of IOTA had such a global vision when they decided to create such a massive supply.

Supply/Demand and Pricing

The one thing about the IOTA story is how can this massive supply benefit investors. It seems counter intuitive.  But I must be too dim witted to appreciate this because back in December before prices tumbled, the public valued IOTA at nearly $15 billion. Since then, like all cryptos, IOTA dropped more than 80% to around $2.6 billion. So did the end of the so called crypto bubble sour investors.  Not at all. Since the April 10th low, the price has jumped 70% to $4.7 billion or about $1.68 per MIOTA.

As we said at the start, long time IOTA watchers will find nothing surprising.  But for the majority, you will want to keep an eye on IOTA; it is not just another altcoin. And it’s price is still less than one-third of last December.  

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

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4.3 stars on average, based on 61 rated postsJames Waggoner is a veteran Wall Street analyst and hedge fund manager who has spent the past few years researching the fintech possibilities of cryptocurrencies. He has a special passion for writing about the future of crypto.
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April 22, 2018 at 09:26AM

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